Look at me all diligent with my blogging! Like countless parents this time a year, my first entered Kindergarten. I’ve been generally anxious about this, mostly because my son is a unique gent, and the world doesn’t not appreciate neurodiversity. On the one hand he could be part of a wonderful group of children…on the other he could have my experience as a kid. Horribly bullied to the point that I didn’t really have a friend until high school, and most of my teachers treated me poorly because I was so weird and annoying. I’m desperately trying to push these fears down. There is nothing I can do about it. He is who he is, and I hope others appreciate him.
Little Man is about five-and-a-half at this point, and newly potty trained. For a couple of weeks I was hesitant to say he was potty trained instead of describing him as still in the process of this delight in parenting adventures. And, this process had been in some kind of swing since the spring. My son is Autistic, so the notion of this milestone is weighed differently than neurotypical kids. I don’t have firm data for this, as most of what I read is created by ableist parents and practitioners. I’ve been educating myself on Autism by reading information provided by those who are part of the community. Consequently, I’ve been trying my best to center around Little Man, and attempting to assess his shtick and what he responds well to…or not.
Up until the spring he wasn’t willing to entertain toilet use whatsoever. It turned into him waving his hand in my face and telling me to stop talking. But, as much as I want to respect his process, I was becoming increasingly nervous he would be wearing diapers in Kindergarten. It isn’t the diapers themselves that were a problem for me, but Little Man easily looks like he’s entering the first grade, maybe even the second. My concern is that he would become the target of other children. Once that happens, there isn’t anything I can do. I expect such a thing would not follow him throughout his entire elementary career, but I also don’t want to see him sad or hurt. Generally, my son is indifferent to kids acting like a bag of dicks toward him, but it is possible for him to be bothered. It’s also hard to predict what would push him over the bothered threshold, and I frankly don’t want to find out.
The process started with me having blunt conversations with him about my concerns. I knew there was a shift in him because he listened to what I had to say. I didn’t want to be too hopeful, though, because we’ve had several false starts over the past couple years in this realm…a dynamic I’m acutely aware of, but don’t want available for public consumption. This time, however, things felt different.
After our conversations that eventually amounted to guilt trips for not shitting in the toilet, we started on the charts…MONTHS of charts. Little Man earned his prizes…so did Warrior Queen because it’s lunacy to give Big Brother a doughnut and deprive her. Not surprising, my son was more interested and invested in the checks on the charts themselves than working for the reward…whatever, it was working.
Below are the charts I generated in Word documents in the event such a thing is helpful for someone else. All of them can be edited, and if anyone has specific questions after my spiel, I’m happy to share whatever tid-bits of things I’ve not outlined here. Most of these follow a kind of linear path of increasing expectation, but note there are outliers from when I experimented to see what might work best for Little Man. Toward the end of diaper use, I would write in how many times he decided he wanted to poop in the toilet for the chart cycle or use the facilities outside the home. That probably isn’t evident in the below documents, as such adjustments were hand-written in. For a long while I was able to reuse the same templates. And, by the end the charts were becoming specific to situations he was avoiding…like using the bathroom at school. He wasn’t having accidents, but holding it in for the duration of his four hour school day and bus transits.
I tried to keep Little Man as involved in the planning as possible, which worked as I threw it back in his face when he didn’t feel like using the potty…I’m not ashamed to say that sometimes I was not entirely easy going with this. I wasn’t crazy abrasive, but I wielded a heavy hand to keep him on track at times. In the end we had all kinds of carrots going on. There were the general “potty charts,” but eventually he was slacking on the dump end, which yielded another chart (the last document below). The reward for pooping in toilet was (and still is) an extra 30 minutes of television at night. That wasn’t always an effective incentive…mostly it’s how I knew he wasn’t remotely ready to go through this process. There isn’t much this kid wouldn’t do for some extra television, but apparently a visit to the porcelain bowl was a bridge too far in expectation. The poop chart gave him that extra nudge he needed. We would determine the time span of the chart…with every chart actually, and I’d have him decide how many times or the span of the chart. The only requirement I had was with each new chart: he had to do more than he was doing in the previous one.
Final note, I designed these charts to absorb bad days. For example, if he decided he wanted the chart to cover seven days, there was not an expectation that the days had to be consecutive. That said, more times than not he was whipping through these things…and both my kids seemed to be in a constant state of consuming doughnuts.
By the end of the chart designs Little Man managed to transition to underwear full-time, and easier than expected. If he decides it will be a good day, then he won’t have an accident. Most of the time he won’t need to be prompted to use the restroom. There is usually a point in the day that he gives me a hard time about it, but that hard time is not as challenging as what this process used to be. The longer he’s been in underwear full-time, the more natural the process for him, and the more I trust his judgment…that’s yielding significantly less to no nagging. And, here we are…a couple weeks into school; my little man is growing up! He’s been so proud of himself…telling anyone and everyone who will listen how good he is at “pottying.”
Things are good. I was asked to teach for the same university for the fall semester. I’m pretty jazzed about that…a bit surprised too. I felt I did a good job, but this is a grant funded gig. I assumed when I wasn’t asked to return shortly after I finished, they moved onto other agendas. I don’t quite understand the mission of this department subset. Other cool things…did I mention I was nominated for a nonprofit Board? I’ve volunteered for them in various capacities for a few years, but I hadn’t considered and opportunity like this. It was flattering to be recommended by the Executive Director, Board Chair, and Vice Chair. It isn’t unusual for superiors and colleagues to sing my praises to some extent, but I’m always flattered and humbled by this kind of positive regard…and then I proceed to find ways to dismiss the accomplishment and undermine my positive mindset…I’m working on that…
Mr. Man is an interesting character. Some things I can’t get him to do for the life of me, but going to the dentist and receiving shots is a total nonissue. Of course, if I had shades like that maybe I’d be down with it too… Actually, while I’m phobic of needles, the dentist never bothered me. As a middle-aged woman I continue to have excellent oral hygiene. The dentist and hygienist were shocked he had no issue throughout the appointment…totally chill. We spend quite a bit of time talking about bravery anticipating scary things. It’s worked surprisingly well. About a week before appointments we start having discussions about these things…doctor’s visits…dentist…whatever that might be considered unpleasant or scary. Sometimes Little Man will frantically wave his hands and tell us to stop talking. Literally. He interrupts us mid sentence saying, “Stop talking,” in a rushed breath. We do. But, we still manage a healthy dose of normalizing fear, discussing bravery and the process of confronting fear. These days my son will ask me what I’m afraid of and what I do about it…and I will confirm that I am afraid of an irrational shit-ton of things. I think, however, it’s helpful for him to hear of all the things the family members he admires fear. After all, everyone is scared of something.
I can’t believe it, but I have potty training news! The peanut gallery can FINALLY get off my back…for now. My son isn’t quite there yet. Sometimes he will urinate in the toilet. Most of the time this month he decided to use the toilet to poop, which is quite a lovely thing. He’s pretty good at wiping himself as well. Given there are easily about three poops a day per child, I’m livin’ large. It isn’t perfect. Little Man isn’t ready to transition to full-time potty (probably because he doesn’t yet realize he will be left alone to eat a snack and read a book for a few minutes). We haven’t had accidents so much as expressions of his reliable need to control people and his environment. His refusals to poop in the toilet seem directly related to very specific events I don’t want to get into, but for the time being are unavoidable. And, the day after his first toilet dump, he didn’t scream and tantrum when I mentioned buying underwear. He chose the above selection. I can’t stand that show. Their notion of diversity are having both blond and brunette White boys…one of them is the leader, and totally obnoxious. The girl is not quite White, but simultaneously is. She has an exotic name, so that must count, right? (Oh, look, there are my tonsils!) I say this because the lack of diversity, lead girls, and general stereotyping in children’s programming GREATLY bothers me. But, I digress. Mr. Man seemed keen on his underwear, but Warrior Queen seemed significantly more so. My money is on her using the toilet shortly after her big brother stops needing diapers during the day. She’ll see him strutting around in his annoying Cat Boy underwear, and that will be the end of diapers for Warrior Queen!
Mr. Man enjoys puzzles. I’d been giving him puzzles for a three-year-old, which are much too easy, but he enjoys repetitions like that. This one is the first four-year-old puzzle he’s tried. He could probably do it himself, but prefers it as an activity to do with an adult. For the first time in my life I enjoy puzzles…because I can manage one for a four-year-old. It took a bit for Little Man to sit for this one, but he enjoyed schlepping all the pieces around. This was the first time we managed to get through it without him building something random and incongruous with the project of piecing together the thing. I never did find that piece, and it’s unbelievably annoying.
This is not an impressive game of the retro Pick-up Sticks. This is Warrior Queen battling me over an almost full box of pasta. It was already open and resting on the counter. She apparently can scale our island to grab anything and everything off the top by using the drawer handles as a ladder. I had my back to her for a second…of course, that’s a parenting motto: “It was just a second!” You’d think I wouldn’t be a total idiot about where I place things, yet… She wanted to carry it over to me, but I’m not THAT much of an imbecile. Her wanting to “carry” it over consists of shaking the box and dumping the contents everywhere. But, that’s not what happened in this instance. There was no shaking with a gradual overflow of objects out of a container. Warrior Queen cut right to the chase and immediately dumped everything, subsequently screaming as I tried to retrieve the completely empty box.
Warrior Queen spent a good fifteen to twenty minutes refusing to eat anything but the broth of this soup, which is just wrong. Who doesn’t passionately love chicken noodle soup? I mean, I’ve had bad chicken noodle soup, but it’s practically an art to completely fuck it up. I remember looking down for a moment, and when I glanced back, this was the situation before me. I even checked the ground and her lap before marveling at her efficiency of sucking down the cup’s contents.
The last post was a bad day. My best hope for terrible days often resignation that the day will end, and another will begin anew. It’s usually better, but there are no guarantees. Fifteen-month-old Warrior Queen has a nasty habit of waking by six-fifteen most days. Threenager is in the lovely cycle of sleeping until seven. My children early risers. I’m an earlier riser. I’ve learned to expect any time to my own devices past six-fifteen is borrowed bonus…I live for bonuses. The next morning was an unexpected one, as the bonuses usually don’t coincide.
Little Man woke first at a whopping seven-thirty. I was exercising. I slept in, so expected to maybe clear fifteen minutes, but managed a significant chunk of my routine reading a brilliant selection of smut that almost shifts the story out of the category altogether…but not quite. My son rumbled along down the stairs with his quiet chatter. He’s growing older, and achieved the capacity to actually whisper. His self awareness amuses me; chattering narration of his need to be quiet because his sister is sleeping…followed by his question if I’m exercising. I love it all. His morning greetings always melt me: Are you exercising, Mommy? I love you. Can I have a hug, kiss, snuggle smooch? Obviously I stop mid peddle to deliver such a request.
Once he reached the bottom of the stairs and scurried along out of my sight, I ceased hearing my delightfully boisterous little boy. Fear began to creep as a wrapped up my morning session.
(MIRIADNA.com can delude themselves all they want; no good comes from quiet when cherubs are awake.)
I don’t see evidence of Mr. Man for a beat, but then I notice the bathroom door ajar and light spilling into an otherwise dark corridor. My shoulders immediately slump; what did he put in the toilet? How much water damage should I expect?
(Obviously hermes-press knows what I can expect.)
Not quite reaching the door frame I see Little Man stand totally naked on the top of his stepping stool that he pushed in front of the toilet. Immediately he sees me and in all of his birthday body glory announces with arms raised that he went potty in the toilet.
(Probably the only person who can claim experiencing more excitement than my little man at this particular moment.)
He shifts down the small plastic steps, flushes the toilet, moves the stool, and washes his hands spouting that he has to wash his hands after using the potty.
(What a preschooler washing his hands entails…This image must be part of a Pinterest instruction manual.)
This type of event isn’t particularly new. He’s been on the cusp of full out potty training, but his willingness to use said toilet is still a bit erratic, and he hasn’t experienced the complete delights of porcelain bowl time occupations.
I diaper him while he washes his hands. Warrior Queen continued to sleep, so we cuddled and read. Little Man prefers to run around the house as naked as he can get away with. He’s grown so much that on such occasions I just stare at every inch of my first miracle…watching the movement of his limbs and his dancing prattles retrieving the random objects he’s pilfered from the recycling bin.
The remaining pieces of the day mostly unremarkable…could have done without his latest overtired expressions of impulsivity…biting his sister. He earned an early nap without a story for that one. But, it’s all…blessedly…just another day.
I lament my children growing older. Even my warrior queen, short of three-months is aging too rapidly. Only yesterday was she barely awake, now expresses preferences to be active, observing our household happenings. My son asserts his increasing desire for independence. It seems too soon he will no longer want me hovering, and perhaps that day is already upon me. But, my humble plea to both, please, don’t hurry your current youth…I’m much too tired for the next step that approaches.
Three-years-old is supposed to be the earliest time for boys to begin their expressed desire to use the toilet like the rest of us. Really? My son is barely over the two-year mark. It’s too soon for him to rip off his soiled diapers onto our carpet. It’s too soon for Little Man to indicate he left a duce in his all-in-one undies for me to clean. I am much to tired and ill prepared to begin the process of toilet training. It was bad enough my son started walking and insisting on feeding himself. The catastrophe left in his wake after those benchmarks will pale in comparison to trails of dung all over the house. My kid is a seriously prolific pooper; I feel blessed if I only change his substantial diaper chips three times a day.
To make matters worse, my daughter isn’t sleeping as much. Sure, her plentiful smiles are breathtaking, but they are sprinkled among strong stipulations to be cuddled. I don’t think I have the energy and general wherewithal to manage a potty training toddler in the midst of a sleep regression and an infant choosing to progress into consciousness in a timely manner. It’s heartbreaking; they just grow up much, much too fast…